Novelist’s Loner Protagonist is All Too Real in Tucson

Like the rest of the twitterati the novelist Walter Kirn quickly tried to make sense of the Arizona shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and several others.

As events unfolded, Kirn’s tweets stood out. By Sunday night, Kirn realized the uncanny similarities alleged shooter Jarred Loughner shared with Kent Selkirk, the socially-inept-loner-on-the-internet protagonist of Kirn’s novel, The Unbinding.

“It was a sense of recognition,” Kirn told Studio 360's Kurt Andersen. “The forces that created this Loughner may be spawning more of him.”

Kurt reached Walter Kirn in Montana to talk about how a confusing violent tragedy has spurred such an  intense cultural moment. Kirn explained, “If we look at this story as a story, and not as a basis of issue oriented argument, we see all sorts of characters who defy stereotypes and partisan description.”